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Hurt wins GOP primary
Will face Perriello in November
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
State Sen. Robert Hurt of Chatham won a lopsided victory over six opponents in the 5th Congressional District Republican primary on Tuesday, according to unofficial results with 99 percent of the district's precincts reporting.
At 8:51 p.m., according to the State Board of Elections website, with 307 of 309 (99.35 percent) of the district's precincts reporting, Hurt had 17,104 votes, or 48.44 percent; James K. "Jim" McKelvey had 9,124, or 25.84 percent; Mike G. McPadden had 3,440, or 9.74 percent; Kenneth C. Boyd had 2,612, or 7.39 percent; Feda Kidd Morton had 1,639 votes, or 4.64 percent; Laurence Paul Verga had 802 votes, or 2.27 percent; and Ron L. Ferrin had 586 votes, or 1.65 percent.
The voter turnout was 35,307, which was nearly 8.3 percent of the 426,201 active voters and nearly 8 percent of the 442,873 total registered voters.
In Henry County, according to complete but unofficial returns, Hurt received 816 of the 1,255 votes cast (65.0 percent); McKelvey received 322 votes, or nearly 25.7 percent; McPadden received 52 votes, or 4.1 percent; Boyd received 30 votes, or nearly 2.4 percent; Morton received 20 votes, or nearly 1.6 percent; Verga received 10 votes, or less than 1 percent; and Ferrin received 5 votes, or less than 1 percent.
The voter turnout in Henry County was 5.6 percent, with 1,255 of the 22,475 registered voters voting.
In Martinsville, with all precincts reporting, Hurt received 355 votes, or 68.2 percent of the 520 votes cast. McKelvey was second with 96 votes, or nearly 18.5 percent. Morton had 28 votes, or nearly 5.4 percent; Boyd and McPadden had 15 votes each, or nearly 2.9 percent; Ferrin received 6 votes, or nearly 1.2 percent; and Verga received 5 votes, or nearly 1 percent.
Voter turnout in Martinsville was 6 percent (520 people voted out of 9,154 registered voters).
Jeff Adkins, chairman of the Martinsville Electoral Board, said the turnout was lower than expected, which he attributed to such things as it being a one-party primary and Martinsville usually trending Democratic, and children being on vacation and people traveling. Martinsville Voter Registrar Ercell Cowan called the turnout "sad."�
Jeffrey S. Williams, the Martinsville Republican Party chairman, said he attributed Hurt's victory to such things as his name recognition as a state legislator and his hard work. In a seven-person race, Hurt did well, Williams added.
Williams said he thinks Hurt should emphasize the U.S. Constitution and the traditional conservative values of the 5th District as he campaigns against incumbent Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Albemarle County, who is seeking a second term.
"To be honest, Perriello has done heavy lifting for his own demise," Williams said, noting, among other things, Perriello's vote for the president's health care initiative. Perriello, Williams said, "cannot serve the 5th District and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi at the same time."�
Jeff Evans, chairman of the Henry County Republican Committee, called Hurt's win "very decisive." Evans attributed that victory to such things as Hurt's hard work, the fact that he is well known and his legislative record. Hurt has scored high among conservative watchdog groups, Evans said.
Evans said now the Henry County and Martinsville Republican parties will work together to support Hurt's campaign. But Evans said they need the help of all conservatives, whether Republican, Democrat or independent to work to defeat Perriello. He added that he thinks it will take a grassroots campaign.
Hurt could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. He told The Associated Press, "In the last eight months that we traveled across the 5th District, we picked up support in all quarters - among Republicans, among independents, and we picked up support among folks who identify themselves as tea party people."�
The Associated Press also reported that Hurt "entered the race with superior fundraising and a Senate district that spanned one-fifth of the central and Southside Virginia congressional district. But Hurt's victory also brings into the fall race independent Jeff Clark, who will run to his right, a prospect that GOP strategists fear because Clark could drain enough conservative support from Hurt to give (incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom) Perriello plurality and a second term."�
Clark is a Danville businessman. He had said that if Hurt won the primary, he would run in the November race as an independent.
Hurt, a lawyer from Chatham, served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002-2007, representing the 16th District, which includes part of Henry County. He was elected to the state Senate in 2007 and began serving in 2008. He now represents the 19th Senatorial District, which includes Danville and Pittsylvania County, as well as Franklin County and part of Campbell County.
Hurt's campaign website says he was first elected to the Chatham Town Council (with 82 percent of the vote); that he was elected and re-elected to the House of Delegates with at least 62 percent of the vote; and was elected to the state Senate with 75 percent of the vote.
Perriello defeated 12-year incumbent Virgil Goode by 727 votes in the November 2008 election.